WASHINGTON CITY— The Washington City Council approved a contract with an electronic bike venture Wednesday to provide e-bike rentals at the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park.
Two weeks ago, representatives of the Easy Rider Rental company appeared before the City Council with a proposal to lease a small parcel of ground in one of the city’s most patronized parks for the installation of a bank of five e-bike lockers.
The lockers are a part of an automated rental system that has thus far seen success in the vacation rentals area of The Ledges in St. George. That success prompted the business owners to propose an expansion to Washington City.
For $8,000 a year, Easy Rider Rentals proposes to use the spot of ground for lockers located along the trail by the Virgin River which runs along the park. While the company would assume all liability related to the e-bike rentals and their use, it needed the council to approve the use of city ground for the venture.
Wanting to see options for additional locations and have other questions addressed, the City Council tabled approving the proposal until its next workshop meeting, which was held last Wednesday.
Tom Lund, the company owner, returned with a list of other possible locations for the bike lockers in Sullivan Park, as well as in Sienna Hills and Highland parks. None of the additional locations curried as much favor with the council as the original option did.
The original location places the bank of lockers on a concrete pad just off the trail. The pad itself used to be the location of a picnic table and benches, but Kole Staheli, the city’s assistant leisure services director, told the council the benches and table were removed due to their being a little too close to the park’s dumpster.
“We saw it as a sanitation issue,” Staheli said, adding that the location would nonetheless be perfect for the e-bike lockers as it was off the trail and already had the infrastructure in place.
“Sullivan Park is the most logical location,” he said.
The location of the lockers was a prime concern of council members Craig Coats and Roger Bundy.
Coats had previously said he was afraid the lockers may disrupt the overall aesthetic of the park and look trashy, however, those concerns were seemingly satisfied during Wednesday’s meeting. Bundy’s concerns centered more on the exact placing of the lockers. He didn’t want them right next to the trails or sidewalks where the act of opening up the lockers could get in the way of a passerby.
“You can’t have it right on the trail,” he said. “You need room for walking and staging.”
This ultimately led to the approval of the originally proposed location.
The lease with the city runs for 18 months, with a review by the council set for the 15-month mark.
For Easy Rider Rentals’ part, the overall proposal marks an estimated $50,000 investment, according to the company’s proposal.
The e-bikes that Easy Rider uses have a charge of around four hours. Bikes are also required to be returned to the locker following use and not left out in the open for an eventual collection like the Spin e-scooters in St. George are.
Each bike is also outfitted with a GPS tracking system to help keep tabs on their location.
Once up and running at the Sullivan Park location, people can rent the bikes through Easy Rider Rentals’ website and get a code that will unlock the locker for them.
In other business, the Washington City Council approved the preliminary 2021-22 city budget for $103.8 million. Coats said it was the largest budget the city has ever had. A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for May 26.
The City Council also heard from the Washington County Youth Coalition about banning tobacco use in city parks and trails. The council is moving toward the adoption of an ordinance to do that, Mayor Ken Nielson said.
Public hearings were also held for property in Washington Fields in the area of 3650 South and 240 West. Area residents came to voice opposition to proposed zone changes to the two parcels that would allow a mix of commercial and median-high density development at that location. The council will vote on the proposed zone changes in another two weeks.
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